Ex-Palawan mayor convicted for ghost projects

Posted at 06/11/2014 9:08 PM | Updated as of 06/11/2014 9:08 PM

MANILA -- The Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday said it has secured the conviction of a former mayor for unlawfully using government funds for a non-existent project.

In an 18-page decision penned by Justice Alexander Gesmundo, the Sandiganbayan found Alejandro Villapando, former mayor of San Vicente, Palawan, guilty of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt practices act.

Villapando was sentenced to a minimum of 6 years and one month in prison. He was also penalized with perpetual disqualification from public office.

The court also ordered Villapando to pay the amount of P247,500 to the municipality of San Vicente, Palawan as civil liability.

Court records said that in January 2000, Villapando and his co-accused, Rodrigo Cipriano, Sr., approved and released a check amounting to P247,500 to Apollo Trading for the purchase of 1,500 bags of Portland cement to be used for concreting works of the project "Toursite Panindigan Road" located at Sitio Panindigan, San Vicente, Palawan.

Records showed that the undated Certificate of Purchase and Certificate of Acceptance for the 1,500 bags of cement were both signed by Villapando and Cipriano Sr.

However, based on the special audit conducted by the Commission on Audit (COA), it was found that there was no such delivery of cement bags and the road for which they were intended neither existed nor accomplished.

Concerned barangay officials also revealed that the road for which the cement bags were intended remained unpaved.

This led the court to the conclusion that the project was not executed and that the payment of P247,500 for the delivery of 1,500 bags of cement to be used for such project was unjustified.

The case against his co-accused, Cipriano Sr., municipal treasurer, was provisionally dismissed pending submission of his death certificate issued by the National Statistics Office.